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Things to do in Sydney this weekend

Find all the best events on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Photograph: Daniel Boud

Make the most of the weekend's spectacular events thanks to Sydney Festival, including dancing in a Glitterbox, getting lost in a hall of mirrors and swimming through a giant ball pit. Plus, there's never been a better time to drinking cocktails outside Sydney Opera House or watch Hollywood's finest on the open-air screens. Click on the tabs to find more events taking place this weekend.

What's on this weekend?


Manly World Food Markets

Every Friday night in Manly there’s an international food market at Gilbert Park with live music from 5pm and a lingering summer nights vibe. Each week there’s a different soul, funk or disco bands like the Dirty Martinis and Daddy Longlegs and Swamp Donkeys. 

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Gilbert Park , Manly Friday January 20 2017 - Friday March 31 2017


There’ll be a big top in Prince Alfred Square, where you can seean impressive display of acrobatic skills in a modern circus show by world dominating company Circa. The world premiere of Humans will see performers stretching the limits of the human body to go harder, faster and higher than ever before.

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Prince Alfred Park Parramatta , Parramatta Thursday January 19 2017

Symphony Under the Stars

This year they’re bringing the delightful event under the stars to the Domain and to the Crescent in Parramatta Park. Pack a picnic and settle down for a concert conducted by Nicholas Carter at the Domain and by Jessica Cottis in Parramatta, covering a repertoire from Elgar’s Enigma Variations to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. 

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Parramatta Park , Parramatta Saturday January 28 2017

Another Day in Paradise

As part of Sydney Festival's 2017 program of art and performance in Western Sydney, Campbelltown Arts Centre will host the first major survey of artworks by the late Myuran Sukumaran, co-curated by artist Ben Quilty and C-A-C director Michael Dagostino. Sukumaran, one of the 'Bali Nine' convicted of drug smuggling in 2005, learned to paint during his incarceration in Kerobokan prison. Around 2012 he was put in touch with Quilty, who became a mentor and friend of the prisoner. 

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Campbelltown Arts Centre , Campbelltown Until Sunday March 26 2017

Home Country

The show takes place over the various levels of the Colo Lane car park, with a communal feast of local food at its centre. Home Country is co-written by Andrea James, Peter Polites and Gaele Sobott, and directed by UTP’s artistic director Rosie Dennis.

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Colo Lane Car Park , Blacktown Until Sunday January 22 2017

Soul of Sydney


Hang out on the grass or hop up on stage for a boogie in the sunshine as the Soul of Sydney DJs unearth gems from Afrobeat, New York disco, Chicago house and ’90s hip-hop.

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Hyde Park , Sydney Sunday January 22 2017 - Sunday January 29 2017

The Hair Salon

Head into the Festival Village at Hyde Park and you’ll be entertained with fabulous personalities and free music and circus performances on the main stage. Running almost every night of the festival is the Hair Salon – a family-friendly variety show of cabaret, wild hair dos and disco.

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Hyde Park , Sydney Until Sunday January 29 2017

Flying Trapeze Workshops

As part of Sydney Festival's Parramatta program, you can swing through the air at Prince Alfred Square in a two-hour trapeze workshop this summer. Be inspired by the altheticism of performers in shows like Humans, Tipping Point, iD and more – then get set to take-off into the air to practice tricks and flips. You will even get the chance to fly into a friend's arms in mid-air.

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Prince Alfred Park , Surry Hills Until Sunday January 22 2017

Which Way Home

Having appeared on Belvoir's stages twice, firstly in Coranderrk and then in Nakkiah Lui’s Kill the Messenger, Katie Beckett took out the 2015 Balnaves Foundation Indigenous Playwright’s Award – coming to the stage in 2017 under director Rachael Maza, for ILBIJERRI Theatre Company. Beckett's play follows a father and daughter on a road trip returning to country. The writer will star alongside Tony Briggs.

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Belvoir St Theatre , Surry Hills Until Sunday February 5 2017

Roller Jam


Every Saturday afternoon during January, you can join a mass roller jam around Hyde Park. Bring your own skates and meet at the Archibald Fountain from 2.30pm, where there’ll be a four-hour roller skating disco suitable for all ages. Request your favourite song from the DJ and glide around Hyde Park until sunset. Children under 14 must wear a helmet to participate.

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Hyde Park , Sydney Saturday January 21 2017 - Saturday January 28 2017

Scent of Sydney

Sydney artist Cat Jones has devised this project based on her award-winning 2015 olfactory installation Century's Breath. As with that work, Jones created her ten signature scents of Sydney by talking to its inhabitants, with each interviewee getting a scent of their own.

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Carriageworks , Eveleigh Until Sunday January 29 2017

Prize Fighter

Written by Congolese Australian Future D. Fidel, and inspired by his incredible life story and experiences as a child soldier, Prize Fighter takes the boxing ring as its setting and unfolds alongside on-stage boxing. The play debuted at La Boite as part of Brisbane Festival 2015, and will make its local debut at Belvoir as part of Sydney Festival 2017, with its original lead Pacharo Mzembe.

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Belvoir St Theatre , Surry Hills Until Sunday January 22 2017

The Beach


Remember the rubber duck in Darling Harbour or the Stonehenge jumping castle? This year, Sydney Festival is making a giant ball pit in the Cutaway at Barangaroo with 1.1 million recyclable polyethylene balls. The art installation that will be cropping up all over your Instagram feeds is an Australian exclusive, created by New York-based design collective Snarkitecture. The monochromatic ‘beach’ will be open for everyone to take a swim.

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The Cutaway , Millers Point Tuesday January 24 2017 - Sunday January 29 2017

Summer Playground


The Western Broadwalk of the Sydney Opera House will be turned into a vintage carnival-themed pop-up bar and restaurant where you can chill out before and after shows. Summer Playground will kick off every day from 10am with carnival games for kids, and it’ll run late into the evening for outdoor dining with a killer view. There’ll be musicians and other performers, as well as themed food from the bar.

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Sydney Opera House , Sydney Until Sunday January 29 2017


Dance to the song of your choice in a glowing cube that turns your dance moves into a work of art. The glowing photo booth-cum-private disco is the work of Sydney-based performance art powerhouse Zin (Harriet Gillies and Roslyn Helper) with Elizabeth Gadsby, who have come up with a concept that sounds like marriage made in Instagram/Snapchat heaven. Head up to the rooftop terrace at the Star (for over 18s only) and create your own dance party in a box of glitter.

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Sky Terrace , Darling Harbour Friday January 20 2017 - Sunday January 29 2017

St George OpenAir Cinema

The most glam of the outdoor cinemas is St George OpenAir. From your seats in the stadium you can watch the screen rise up over the water, with the Opera House and Bridge as the backdrop. This year's program has some unexpected detours fron convention, and they also have 19 movies screening ahead of their official release dates, including Oscar fave La La Land, Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie, Australian hit Lion, Ben Affleck's Live by Night, Matt Damon in The Great Wall, and the long-awaited sequel T2:Trainspotting.

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Mrs Macquaries Chair , Sydney Until Wednesday February 22 2017

House of Mirrors


Visitors to the most recent Dark Mofo festival in Tasmania will have encountered the confusing, claustrophobic labyrinth of endless mirrors at the Museum of Old and New Art. Now, the extravagant installation is coming to the Meriton Festival Village at Sydney Festival for four weeks. Step inside the maze of disorienting optical illusions and stumble around as you try to find your way back out again.

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Hyde Park , Sydney Until Sunday January 29 2017

Little Darlings Night Owls Kids Film Festival


The Little Darlings Night Owls Film Festival has free family movies for all ages as well as superhero flicks this January. The big screen will show 26 feature films and 17 short films presented by Little Big Shots (Australia’s major children’s short film festival), as well as provide entertainment each night from 6.30pm. The line-up includes Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia and Pan. Plus, for older kids, there’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Wolverine, Iron Man 3, Thor 2: The Dark World, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

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Darling Quarter , Haymarket Until Wednesday January 25 2017


Briefs are a collective of male burlesque, drag and circus superheroes that formed in Brisbane's underground in 2008, parlaying light-night cabaret spots into full blown shows like this one. They're headlining Sydney Festival's pleasure dome, the Magic Mirrors Spiegeltent, with their show The Second Coming. Expect bad-ass stunts, boylesque, and bent-AF performance.

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Hyde Park , Sydney Until Sunday January 22 2017

Nude Live

As part of Sydney Festival, dancers from Sydney Dance Company will perform in the buff amongst the artworks of Nude: Art for the Tate Collection. Artistic director Rafael Bonachela has created choreography that responds to works by Pablo Picasso, Lucian Freud, Henri Matisse and Louise Bourgeois, among others. Associate artists Dave Mack, Fiona Jopp, Marlo Benjamin, Olivia Kingston, Zachary Lopez, Oliver Savariego and Izzac Carroll will perform in the piece.

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Art Gallery of NSW , Sydney Sunday January 22 2017 - Monday January 23 2017

Sydney's best beach kiosks

Half the fun of heading to the coast is summertime treats after a day in the sun. Happily, Sydney boasts a collection of beach kiosks ensuring your beach day features the requisite icy poles, hot chips and cold drinks that complete the picture.

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By: Emily Lloyd-Tait